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Chapters: Prologue 1 2 3 4 5 Epilogue

Chapter 2: Boots on the Ground

Empress Desert, 15km south west of Soleanna - November 3rd 2013, 10:00AM

The Empress Desert. A place which once prospered hundreds of years ago, now reduced to ruins and rubble. Most of the old ruins were submerged within the golden sand that covered the desert, but a few select statues, pillars and roofs poked out. There was one building that was out of place though. It was roughly the size of two regular family homes and made of reinforced concrete that was littered with sand. Around it were mechanised infantry, standing guard just in case an unlikely attack were to occur. They were roughly average height when compared to a Mobian, standing at roughly five feet and ten inches. Their bodies were camouflaged to match the colours of the desert, being a variety of shades of brown. The heads of these robots were bland and, aside from the camouflage, lacked detail. The only things that were apparent were a camera on top left of the head and a torch which stuck out from the left side.

Behind the base, Lawson could be seen cutting through the chain link fence that surrounded the base with a laser of sorts while Astrid and Katherine waited patiently to enter. Lawson and Katherine were now outfitted slightly differently than they were back at Osiris Base. They wore shirts and combat trousers that had a similar brown camouflage to that of the robots. They also had combat vests equipped with a variety of different tools and instruments, including ammo for their respective weapons. Astrid, on the other hand, wore exactly what she previously, now with the addition of a leather quiver on her back and a sheathe to hold her dagger attached to her belt.

"Almost..." Lawson whispered as he cut the last few wires in the chain link fence. Then, a quiet metallic snap could be heard as the metal broke free. "Got it, let's go," the wolf continued as he quickly grabbed the fence so that it didn't fall and make them noticed.

As he placed it onto the floor, Astrid and Katherine moved in. They hid behind a wall and crouched down. Astrid peeked over to see what kind of defences The Broker had around his base.

"It seems you were correct, Agent Lawson," Astrid whispered as he came to crouch behind the wall as well, "Those are the same machines I fought in Soleanna."

"Wait, I heard about that. You caused that mess in the forest?" Katherine asked quietly.

"This isn't the time to chat, ladies. We need to figure out a way past these things," Lawson said, now repeating what Astrid did a moment ago.

"There is a collapsed column to the left. I will use that as cover to get to the entrance and eliminate the door guards," Astrid said.

Lawson gave a hand gesture toward the direction Astrid was going to head in. The assassin proceeded to do as she'd planned. She moved along the column, which lay flat in the sand. She occasionally checked over the top of the column to see where the other guards were while also making sure she stayed out of the view of the door guards. A minute had passed and Astrid found herself in the blind spot of the two guards. Quickly, but quietly, she drew her dagger and cut the wires trailing along their necks, disabling them. They landed softly in the sand. Astrid waved the agents over, to which they responded with movement.

When they crouched by the pillar along with Astrid, Katherine retrieved a smartphone-like device from a velcro slot in her combat vest.

"Give me a sec while I hack the door," she said, swiping away on the device.

"Okay, well don't take too long, yeah?" Lawson asked, obviously doubting his recruit's skills.

A few seconds had passed and the cat continued swiping on the device. "Damn, this guy's got some serious security. Only just reached the halfway point."

That's actually pretty fast... Jacob thought to himself.

Astrid peered over the cover and saw one of the robots closing in. They didn't have much time left to get in undetected.

"One of them draws near," the assassin whispered.

Almost immediately after, Katherine uttered the words "I'm in." Following this, the doors opened.

"C'mon," Lawson said, moving quickly but quietly into the dark room room before them. In response, the women quickly followed.

Katherine then turned to the panel on the inside and fiddled with a few wires until the doors slid shut. "Told you I came top in my class," she stated.

Her partner raised an eyebrow, as if he were offended and said, "Did you get a grade in smartassery during those classes?"

The Private blushed with shame, only now realising what she'd said, "Uhh, no sir. Sorry."

Astrid let out a smirk, finding Lawson's question slightly amusing.

"Right, let's get a move on," the Agent said, brushing some sand off of his shoulder.

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